Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars It may have taken a while for Lung Ha’s Theatre Company to get to the Greeks, but now they’re on it, it looks like near perfect if overdue match. Adrian Osmond’s faithful new take on Sophocles’ tragedy of one young woman’s willingness to die for a cause in the face of misguided power similarly takes advantage of the play’s choral structure to include some twenty-five performers with learning disabilities into the play’s complex web of political and inter-personal constructs without ever looking forced.
A wonderful addition here too is the presence of five members of the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland Futures programme, who play Kenneth Dempster’s live score for flute, French horn, clarinet, violin and viola with a dextrous urgency that adds much to the drama. Spread out on Becky Minto’s monumental-looking set and dressed in utilitarian basics that hints at some kind of enforced collectivism, the cast strike heightened poses in the face of Creon’s authority, even as he’s shunned by the nation he claims to be acting for. Maria Oller’s production retains this sense of stylised classicism throughout, with the music at times driving the action.
At the heart of all this is Nicola Tuxworth’s Antigone, an already feisty and fearless heroine played with similar courage and pluck. Without ever over-egging any modern-day acts of defiance, as the curtains that mask assorted atrocities morph into angel wings for Antigone as her fate is sealed, it is plain that Tuxworth’s trouble-maker is one of the ninety-nine per cent who could have stepped straight from the Occupy movement to stand up for something the Creons of this world only see when it’s too late.
The Herald, March 20th 2012 ends